Can Tampa's Bishop conquer New York demons?
Lightning netminder Ben Bishop knows that he must perform better against the Islanders. What’s a Vezina Trophy finalist to do, though, when the literal wild cards of the Eastern Conference seemingly have his number?
A solution needs to materialize quickly or else, Tampa Bay faces the prospect of heading to New York in a 0-2 hole. The two teams once again joust in the Sunshine State this afternoon, with a 3 p.m. ET puck drop at Amalie Arena. Handicappers at online sports book Bovada.lv give Bishop’s gang odds of -160 to even the semifinals. As for the Isles, they’re +140 underdogs.
In Wednesday’s series opener, Bishop failed to get through a start vs. Jack Capuano’s group for the second straight matchup. Before that 5-3 loss, the 29-year-old had allowed two goals or fewer in eight consecutive playoff contests. He’s now 1-3-0 with a 5.00 GAA in four meetings with New York in 2015-16.
It would also behoove the Lightning to concentrate on containing John Tavares to some degree. The All-Star forward boasts four goals and four helpers in the Islanders’ last seven encounters with Jon Cooper’s club. He’s received significant help from Brock Nelson, who has tallied nine points during the same span.
This essentially amounts to a must-win situation for Tampa Bay, and we expect the Atlantic Division runner-up to treat it as such. Provided that Bishop makes some saves and controls rebounds early, the South Florida crowd should buoy the home squad. Lock in for a lengthy series between these two combatants.
SATURDAY NHL FREE PICK: LIGHTNING -1.5